When the Northern Territory’s strict coronavirus travel restrictions slowed passing trade to a trickle, a Top End roadhouse decided it was time to try something new.
The Dunmarra Wayside Inn, 315 kilometres south of Katherine, is owned by pilot Gary Frost.
Most of the surrounding cattle stations were now in lockdown – so he had little choice but to take to the skies to keep the locals in high spirits.
“Nobody can go anywhere, they’re limited to how they get their supplies and refreshments,” Mr Frost said.
“We thought we might do something to help them out a little bit.
“We make pizzas at Dunmarra roadhouse anyway, so we thought we would get all the pizzas together and see if they were interested, if we can fly them out, so they don’t have to leave the properties.”
‘A friendly gesture’
Hot food and alcohol has already been delivered to stations within a 100 kilometre radius of the roadhouse, with plans to extend the once-a-week service to properties up to 400 kilometres away.
With prices remaining the same as in-house orders, the idea has been well received.
“We’ve been getting quite a good response actually – everybody is quite excited about it,” Mr Frost said.
“Its something unique I suppose, I don’t know of anyone else who has ever done it probably in the world, as far as I could research.
“I suppose the cost of it is prohibitive as a commercial venture, but we’re not doing it as a commercial venture.
“We’re just doing it as a friendly gesture to try and help people out and create the right atmosphere.”
The takeaway products, along with mailbags for the stations, are delivered in a fixed-wing plane, which has plenty of room for the extra cargo.
Mr Frost said he was also willing to throw a few extra toilet rolls in the back, if needed.
“As long as they don’t come loose in the back of the plane, that’s all right,” he said.